As the number of the dead and injured, most of whom are women and children, rises in Kobanê following the horrendous attack by ISIS two days ago- and as we are flooded with the heartbreaking images of mothers and fathers crying at the funeral of their children- it is tempting to resort to give in to the unimaginable levels of despair and collective pain that we feel as Kurds. Despair, pain, suffering, oppression, violence, genocide, and massacres in the face of unbearable international silence, colour the main themes of our lives as Kurds. And as we watch the horror unfold again in Kobanê, it is difficult not to be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of our ongoing, and seemingly endless, suffering. Not to feel anger at the ongoing silence of the international community as Turkey allows terrorists to yet again freely cross international borders and massacre innocent children and women.
But, I remember the beautiful flying eagle in Qada Azadi (Freedom Square) in Kobanê, with its majestic wings spread, surrounded by astonishing levels of destruction, rubble and bombed houses. It was, surprisingly and symbolically, the only structure left intact in the entire square- and to me it represented the unbreakable will of the Kurds, and their never ending determination to choose life even as they face unthinkable pain. At first I thought that the eagle was on the verge of taking flight into the great unknown, choosing freedom, representing the Kurds, yearning always for unrestrained freedom, and to escape the level of destruction and pain… but the more I think of it, the more I believe that it was indeed landing, reclaiming its small prized possession and taking stock of its destroyed home with a fierce determination. Undeterred. Fearless. Indomitable and steadfast.
And it is these characteristics that we must remember as we move forward. Kobanê showed us its unbreakable will and determination to choose life above death, destruction and terror. And Kobanê WILL live again no matter the odds or the circumstances. Kobanê is bloody but unbowed- unconquerable because it is not the level of destruction, the level of suffering, the level of death, the never ending tears of its mothers, and the broken bodies of the little children of Kobanê that defines it. No, it is not fatalism. But its desire to break the bonds of servitude to the will of terrorists, the so called international community, and the belief that we should wait to be saved by outsiders who fetishize our pain and use it selectively for their own self interests. We need to be clear about this! No one can save the Kurds but the Kurds! NATO will not save us! the EU, the USA, the UN will not save you or me. No one can free us but ourselves by relying on our greatest asset: our selves, our people! through unity, through refusing to rely solely on “international help”, the white “savior” that never comes- and when it does often too little and too late, serving the interests of the very oppressors responsible for the massacres and wars imposed on us. If the cause of our ongoing pain is the White supremacist, capitalist, imperialist, cis normative heteropatriarchal system then why do we expect the White supremacist, capitalist, imperialist, cis normative heteropatriarchal system to save us from the bonds it has imposed on us?
No one can break the chains imposed by the cruel, but the very deliberate, strokes of history’s paint brush on the Kurds, but the Kurds themselves! And the first step is to stop internalizing our oppression, misogyny and racism, refuse fatalism and decolonize our minds.